Little Bits of History

That’s Crazy

Posted in History by patriciahysell on January 30, 2013
Richard Lawrence and Andrew Jackson

Richard Lawrence and Andrew Jackson

January 30, 1835: Richard Lawrence pulls two pistols and shoots at President Andrew Jackson, the first known US Presidential assassination attempt. Lawrence was born in England in either 1800 or 1801. He was clearly insane by age 30, possibly due to the chemicals found in the paint he used in his work. He thought he was King Richard III and he blamed Jackson for his father’s death as well as keeping him from the throne. He moved to the US in order to rectify these miscarriages of justice. Fortunately, during the assassination attempt, both pistols misfired. Lawrence was found not guilty by reason of insanity and spent the rest of his life in insane asylums.

Four US Presidents have been assassinated while in office. Abraham Lincoln was shot in the head while attending Ford’s Theater and died the next day. James A. Garfield was shot in the back while at a train station in Washington, DC and died nearly three months later due to the poor medical care he received. William McKinley was shot in the chest at the Pan-American Exposition and died eight days later. John F. Kennedy was shot in the head while riding in a cavalcade in Dallas, Texas and died later in the day. Nine other Presidents have had unsuccessful attempts made on their lives.

Chinese Emperor Qin Shi Huang reigned in 210 BC when Jing Ke made an unsuccessful attempt on his life, the earliest documented attempt. In 44 BC Julius Caesar was stabbed 23 times by a group of senators at the Forum in Rome. Assassinations have brought about the fall of nations, as in the Roman Republic. The assassination of Austrian Archduke Franz Ferdinand is often cited as the start of World War I. Not all assassinations are political.

One definition of the crime is “… to murder a prominent person by surprise attack.” The assassin commits 1. a terrible violence, 2. in public view, and 3. for a political, moral, or ideological reason. Religious icons have also been attacked, for instance – Pope John Paul II. More layers of security were added with devices such as the Popemobile. Bodyguards increased and sometimes body doubles were used. Access to the powerful and famous is becoming more restricted. Alas, this does not entirely stop the assassins.

“I’m scared to death. I know the assassin mentality he has. He’s always on attack. He’s always probing the defense. I liked it better when we didn’t know what was there.” – Jay Wright

“I know you are here to kill me. Shoot, coward, you are only going to kill a man.’ – Ernesto “Che” Guevara, facing his assassin

“Rome had Caesar, a man of remarkable governing talents, although it must be said that a ruler who arouses opponents to resort to assassination is probably not as smart as he ought to be.” – Barbara W. Tuchman

“The slanderer and the assassin differ only in the weapon they use; with the one it is the dagger, with the other the tongue. The former is worse that the latter, for the last only kills the body, while the other murders the reputation.” – Tyron Edwards

This article first appeared at in 2010. Editor’s update: Andrew Jackson was nicknamed Old Hickory because of his toughness and his aggressive nature. He was the seventh US President following John Quincy Adams and having Martin Van Buren assuming the office after Jackson’s second term. Van Buren had been the Vice President during that second term. Jackson was born in the frontier region around the Carolinas in 1767 just three weeks after his father was killed in an accident while his mother was returning home after burying her husband. His education was erratic at best. At the age of 13, he joined the militia and helped fight in the Revolutionary War. His family was decimated by the fighting and Jackson always blamed the British.

Also on this day: “Look that up in your Funk and Wagnall’s” – In 1922, Dick Martin was born.
Assassination attempt – In 1835, the first US Presidential assassination attempt takes place.
Mr. Music – In 1858, the Halle Orchestra performed.

2 Responses

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  1. Bobby Dias said, on January 30, 2013 at 9:17 am

    Maybe Richard Lawrence was right about Jackson- in real life and in history some Americans have the trait of calling others wrong or insane or whatever when wrong-doing statements are made about them. President John F. Kennedy carried the fictional so-called cold-war statements about the USSR so far that he almost started a nuclear war before calling me to talk Nikita Khrushchev into turning back the ship carrying the missle that was to be installed in Cuba(2nd was a dummy). JFK had perpetuated the cold-war scenario to get him votes but stopped that just in time to avert disaster-disaster that he would have started by blaming others,falsely blaming others like I said about that trait.

  2. Sherry said, on February 3, 2014 at 10:31 am

    Still delusional, Bobby Dias.

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